The Ravens came into the heat of San Diego and battled their way to a hard fought 31-26 victory . While the game was a little less then 4 hours, I think I may have aged 4 years. This one was everything that was promised and then some. If nothing else it showed that the Ravens can play with the big boys, and beat them in their own back yard.
Phillip Rivers had a phenomenal game passing for a personal best 436 yards, but it wasn't enough to out dual a hungry and well conditioned Ravens squad. With temperatures near 100 degrees on the field the Ravens never slowed down with their pressure on Rivers, who was hit early and often. It was only fitting that Ray Lewis would be the one to seal the win with a well read charge up the middle to stop Darren Sproles dead in his tracks.
While Joe Flacco had only 190 yards passing he made the most of his shots. He hit Todd Heap for a touchdown on a throw only Heap could catch, and later hit a wide open Kelley Washington for a 29 yard score. But while Flacco played a good game the Ravens three headed monster at runningback played a great one. Ray Rice was quick hitting the holes and accelerating through the smallest of openings. Willis McGahee ran hard and came up big in the Red Zone once again as he added 2 more rushing touchdowns to his 2009 season. That would make 4 in two games. The big man LeRon McLain got a couple of tough 3rd down conversions early and was outstanding as a lead blocker for Rice and McGahee. Give this group an A+.
One problem the Ravens secondary had was their mismatch in size with the Chargers receivers. Fabian Washington showed that he has trouble with a taller receiver, and also gave far too much cushion to the Charger receivers. On the other hand Domonique Foxworth played an outstanding game including breaking up two critical passes late in the game to hold the Chargers to a field goal. That would be the last points the Chargers would put on the board.
This was also one of the poorer officiated games I've seen in awhile. Several times flags flew when there was no penalty, you had an official running up to the line of scrimmage stopping play, and throwing off the Ravens offensive linemen which resulted in Michael Oher committing a false start. This group was a little too flag happy for my taste. Also, can someone please tell me why a kickoff that is in the field of play, but caught by a player with one foot out of bounds is a penalty against the kicking team? If you kick the ball out of bounds it's a penalty, but if the ball is still inbounds when it is caught I fail to see how that should be a penalty. If you ask me the ball should have been down at the spot of the reception.
Overall I'd say this game made a statement, it showed that the flashiest team doesn't always come out on top. It showed that the Ravens are good enough to beat a playoff caliber team on the road, and a 3,687 mile road trip at that. And it showed that the Ravens can beat you through the air or on the ground, or a strategic combination of both. This team has come out of the blocks fast, and I only see them gaining speed as the season progresses. How bout' them Ravens!
By the way, on NBC's "Best of the best" highlites they failed to show this game, though they did show the Steelers loss. Go figure.